British photographic history

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Book: Study in Black and White: Photography, Race, Humor

I'm pleased to announce the publication by Penn State Press of Study in Black and White: Photography, Race, Humor. This book examines how photographic humor was used in the US and across the British empire to express evolving ideas about race, black emancipation, and civil rights in the mid-1800s and into the twentieth century. It employs a trove of understudied materials to write a new history of photography, one that encompasses the rise of the commercial portrait studio in the 1840s, the popularization of amateur photography around 1900, and the mass circulation of postcards and other photographic ephemera in the twentieth century. Study in Black and White examines the racial politics that shaped some of the most essential elements of the medium, from the negative-positive process to the convention of the photographic smile. It also places historical discourses in relation to contemporary art that critiques racism through humor. 

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